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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE DARK AGES                          103

liberal arts. The idea that all secular knowledge was comprehend-
ed in seven arts had found expression in the treatise of Martianus
Capella, but the pagan atmosphere of Capella's book had prevented
its general adoption. The work of Cassiodorus emphasized
afresh the sevenfold grouping of knowledge and gave it sanctity
by connecting it with the text that " Wisdom hath builded her
house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars." Henceforward
the seven arts constituted a standard part of education, and
the work of Cassiodorus, unoriginal compendium as it was,
became one of the texts commonly studied.

But though the example of Cassiodorus did something to
encourage the scholarly side of monastic life, the general tendency
of monasticism in the Sixth Century was antipathetic to learning.
More truly representative of this movement in the Roman
Church was the contemporary of Cassiodorus, St. Benedict,
the great man whose Rule was adopted by nearly all the monas-
teries of Western Europe in the immediately succeeding centuries.
In his youth he was sent to Rome to receive the usual course of
instruction of a well-born Roman. But seeing the evil effects
of literary study on some of his fellows he deliberately renounced
all worldly learning, choosing, as his biographer, Pope Gregory,
said, " to be knowingly ignorant and wisely unlearned." In
529 he founded his famous monastery on Monte Cassino on the
site of an old temple of Apollo. Whether there was provision in
this establishment for the teaching of the liberal arts is much
disputed; but in view of Benedict's contempt for learning it is
difficult to believe that there was. Certainly there is no indication
of any provision for study in the Rule he drew up for his monks.
" Idleness is the great enemy of the soul/' he declared in the
forty-eighth chapter of that Rule ; and therefore he would have
them always busy, either at manual work or in the reading of
holy books. In order to ensure this, he prescribed seven hours
of manual work and at least two hours of reading as part of the
daily routine. But no monk was to be allowed a book or a pen of
his own. Here, clearly, there is no suggestion that the learned
labours which were a common feature of the later Benedictine
monasteries were considered by Benedict himself a necessary
part of the monastic regime, or that there was any obligation on
the monks to impart general instruction to the young and the
ignorant. The inclusion of reading among the tasks prescribed